Juneteeth celebration is Friday

CLINTON — The Clinton community is set to once again participate in a celebration that originated to mark the official end of slavery in the United States.

Known as "Juneteenth," the celebration in Clinton is slated for Friday, with various activities taking place at the Riverview Bandshell from noon until 8 p.m. The festivities will include things like a barbecue cookoff, a fashion show, dance competitions and displays, a watermelon-eating contest, a gospel choir competition, and a performance by Gateway-area musician Random Tanner, among others throughout the day.

Event organizer Tiffany Harris said the celebration focuses on "self-improvement and education," with a "historic recount of the past and prayer services" as well. Other areas of emphasis include major cultural highlights, and a spotlight on African American achievement throughout America's history.

In short, Juneteenth is an event for an entire community to meet and celebrate together.

"This really is a great event for the whole community to get together to embrace different cultures," Harris said. "It's free and open to the public, and the most important thing is it gives our community a chance to celebrate freedom from slavery."

This is Harris' 11th year organizing Clinton's Juneteenth celebration, overseeing "the whole gamut of activities" in her decade-long dedication to the riverfront celebration, seeing growth in community involvement in that time with the event. But Juneteenth isn't just a Clinton event or an Iowa event.

Harris expressed pride last week in being able to localize a national initiative and ensure that the Clinton area can participate in the celebration.

"Every year, you see communities get together all around the country, so it's important that we here in Clinton are able to do the same and share in that celebration," Harris said. "That community involvement for us is very, very important."